11 Plus CEM Style

11 Plus CEM style papers are one particular format of 11 Plus paper used by certain boroughs.

CEM stands for ‘Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring’ and is an educational research institution run by the University of Durham. CEM was introduced due to concerns that the 11 plus tests were becoming too open and easy to prepare for (see GL). The balance overall is 25% English, 25% verbal reasoning, 25% non verbal reasoning  and 25% mathematics.

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What makes 11 Plus CEM Style papers challenging?

Perhaps the most unusual aspect to these papers is the fact that each section in the papers is individually-timed. This means that the student is unable to go back and forth between sections. Most students are not used to this style of exam, as examinations in school are not usually carried out in this manner. Another aspect that makes this style of examination challenging is that the student needs to mark answers on a provided answer sheet. This can be difficult for certain students, and it is recommended that students practice this style of exam well in advance.

11 plus CEM style papers were designed to be ‘untutorable’. The inclusion of non verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning under extreme time-restraints was intended to give students a unique challenge that tests for their raw intelligence. It is, however, fairly obvious now that it is possible to prepare students for this style of paper. The CEM board was hoping to increase social mobility by increasing the challenge of the test, so tutored children would not have any advantage. It has, however, been shown that the CEM test seems to widen the attainment gap between children from poorer backgrounds and those with better access to education and in more affluent areas have benefitted.

11 Plus CEM

Which boroughs use 11 Plus CEM style papers?

The following boroughs currently use CEM for their 11 plus exam.

  • Berkshire (including Slough)
  • Bexley
  • Birmingham
  • Gloucestershire
  • Redbridge
  • Shropshire
  • South West Herts Consortium – CEM Verbal Reasoning
  • Warwickshire
  • Walsall
  • Wolverhampton

Parts of the following regions use CEM

  • Devon Grammar School
  • Trafford Consortium Schools – Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Sale Grammar School, Stretford Grammar School and Urmston Grammar School.
  • Wiltshire – Bishop Wordsworth’s
  • Wirral Grammar Schools
  • Yorkshire – Heckmondwike Grammar

CEM Exam Structure:

Paper breakdown
MCQ-Section by section
Separate answer sheet Each section is timed
Short maths Mental maths
Long maths Yes (multi-question maths)
English comprehension Yes (usually one short and one long)
Grammar and spelling Yes
Vocabulary Yes (antonyms and synonyms)
Verbal Reasoning Yes (all types)
Non-Verbal Reasoning (2D) Yes
Non-Verbal Reasoning  (3D/spatial) Yes

There is a big focus on vocabulary in these papers as well as problem-solving. There are generally more questions than there is time to answer them. Therefore a good balance between speed and accuracy is crucial.

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